Six excellent hotel websites (and how they encourage direct booking)

Online travel agencies (OTAs) have enjoyed huge growth over the past few years, with the majority of consumers now booking hotels and accommodation via third-party sites. 

However, new research from Kalibri Labs suggests that consumer favour could in fact be be shifting, reverting back to brand hotel sites rather than OTAs.

In the analysis of the period of May to December 2016, when the hotels in question ran ‘book direct’ campaigns, Kalibri found a faster rate of growth in hotel site bookings compared to the OTA channel. This was also the case in terms of both revenue and room nights when compared to year before, (and prior to the direct booking campaigns being launched).

So, what makes consumers want to book direct rather than via a third party? Here are some examples of hotel websites I think are getting it right.

The Ritz

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As one of the most well-known hotels in London, the Ritz largely relies on its prestigious reputation to drive bookings. This means that people might be more inclined to visit its website as a first port of call anyway (as opposed to a third party site). However, the Ritz still encourages direct bookings as often as possible, immediately capturing the user’s attention with a list of benefits (including lowest rates and free calls and internet).

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Elsewhere, it sets out types of rooms and suites clearly, showcasing the opulence and luxury of the hotel with large and prominent imagery.

The search and booking process itself is quick and easy, with prominent reviews also being used to spur on consumers and encourage bookings.

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This is perhaps surprising for a luxury hotel like the Ritz, whereby a high level of service is presumed to be standard. However, its inclusion shows how important the advocacy and influence of past customers can be - regardless of hotel heritage.

Hotel Direct-Booking Pushes Really Worked and Owners Were Big Winners

The bigger question, however, is whether these campaigns will still work in 2017 and beyond; offering discounted rates can only last for so long. Hotels need to start thinking about how they can ensure this momentum continues in the long run without having to use discounted rates.
—  Deanna Ting
Did Hilton succeed in convincing consumers to “Stop Clicking Around?” Did Marriott prove “It pays to book direct“?

Did Hilton succeed in convincing consumers to “Stop Clicking Around?” Did Marriott prove “It pays to book direct“?

According to a new report from Kalibri Labs, they and their peers which launched direct- booking campaigns in 2016 certainly did.

Compiling data from its database of more than 25,000 hotels in the U.S., including validated costs and daily transactions directly sourced from the hotels’ systems, Kalibri Labs found that there was indeed a shift in consumer behavior toward brand.com sites versus online travel agencies such as Booking.com or Expedia. More consumers than ever before chose to book direct versus booking on a third-party site.

Read the full article on Skift

Hotel direct booking campaigns really work

Over the past 18 months industry experts and analysts have weighed in on the effectiveness of direct booking campaigns, but a new report from Kalibri Labs shows consumer behavior has taken a shift to favor Brand.com, meaning the effort is paying off.

A new study from Kalibri Labs shows that the collective effort of hotel companies to sway people to book direct is working. The study, “Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty,” was conducted between May and December 2016, and authored by Cindy Estis Green, CEO and co-founder of Kalibri Labs, alongside Mark Mazzocco, VP of revenue strategy at Kalibri Labs.

Read the full article on Hotel Marketing

Report: Book Direct Campaigns Have Shifted Consumers to Brand Websites

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ROCKVILLE, MD—Kalibri Labs has revealed the results of a new study regarding hotel brands’ book-direct campaigns: according to the research, there’s been a consumer shift in favor of brand.com versus online travel agencies (OTAs), compared to historic growth trends, during the recent promotional campaigns. The study also revealed increased revenue for hotels during the campaign period examined in the study.

“This shift in consumer behavior is positive news for hotel brands across the country, supporting the efforts to increase use of the hotel industry’s direct channels over the past couple of years,” said Cindy Estis Green, CEO/Co-founder of Kalibri Labs. “The results demonstrate that customer affinity to brand.com is increasing, and there is an accelerated growth in loyalty membership and revenue.”

Read the full article on Hotel Business

Research: Book Direct Campaigns Drive Consumers To Hotel Websites vs. OTAs

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Rockville, Md.—Kalibri Labs released results from a new study that reveal a consumer shift in favor of hotel brand websites versus online travel agencies (OTAs) compared to historic growth trends. The change in consumer preference took place during recent promotional campaigns to attract new loyalty members with incentives to book direct. The study also revealed increased revenue for hotels during the campaign period examined in the study.

“This shift in consumer behavior is positive news for hotel brands across the country, supporting the efforts to increase use of the hotel industry’s direct channels over the past couple of years,” said Cindy Estis Green, CEO and co-founder of Kalibri Labs who conducted the analysis. “The results demonstrate that customer affinity to Brand.com is increasing, and there is an accelerated growth in loyalty membership and revenue.”

Read the full article on Lodging Magazine

Research reveals consumer shift in favor of hotel brands websites vs. OTAs

Loyalty with hotel website found to be powerful driver of demand and growth. The Kalibri Labs study sample of 12,000 hotels and 52 million transactions confirmed that channel shift occurred with more rapid growth in Brand.com and slowed growth in the OTA channel during the period the campaigns were running.

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ROCKVILLE, MD - Kalibri Labs announced that the results of a new study reveal a consumer shift in favor of Brand.com versus online travel agencies (OTAs) compared to historic growth trends, during the recent promotional campaigns to attract new loyalty members with incentives to book direct. The study also revealed increased revenue for hotels during the campaign period examined in the study.

“This shift in consumer behavior is positive news for hotel brands across the country, supporting the efforts to increase use of the hotel industry’s direct channels over the past couple of years,” said Cindy Estis Green, CEO & co-founder of Kalibri Labs who conducted the analysis. “The results demonstrate that customer affinity to Brand.com is increasing, and there is an accelerated growth in loyalty membership and revenue.”

Read the full article on Travel Daily News

New study from Kalibri Labs shows direct bookings push is working

Hotels have been trying to guide guests to Brand.com... and it's working.

Hotels have been trying to guide guests to Brand.com... and it's working.

They say if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. In 2016, 10 of the hospitality industry’s largest hotel brands began a concentrated effort to win back direct bookings from online travel agencies as part of the “Book Direct” campaign. The effort was designed to educate consumers on the benefits to booking direct, while offering bonuses or reduced rates for loyalty members, but until now no one in the industry was sure if it worked or not.

Over the past 18 months industry experts and analysts have weighed in on the effectiveness of the campaign, but a new report from Kalibri Labs shows consumer behavior has taken a shift to favor Brand.com, meaning the effort is paying off.  The report, titled “Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty,” was conducted between May and December 2016, and authored by Cindy Estis Green, CEO & co-founder of Kalibri Labs, alongside Mark Mazzocco, VP of revenue strategy at Kalibri Labs. This is the first study of its kind to look at the Book Direct campaign that looked beyond the transactional aspect of bookings, and also included an analysis of the “lifetime value” of incremental loyalty members as they relate to hotels.

Loyalty contribution is 40-60 percent for most hotel segments, and has risen 7 percent on average the last three years, with a jump in 2016 in growth of 2-4 times prior year’s growth rate.

Loyalty contribution is 40-60 percent for most hotel segments, and has risen 7 percent on average the last three years, with a jump in 2016 in growth of 2-4 times prior year’s growth rate.

The full report, "Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty," can be viewed here.

Consumer acquisition costs too high and growing, says Kalibri Labs CEO

By Elliott Mest

NEW YORK — Customer acquisition costs in hospitality can vary depending on the property, but when guests book through third parties, hotel revenue takes a serious hit. Cindy Estis Green, CEO & co-founder of Kalibri Labs, held a workshop on the second day of the Direct Booking Summit in New York City titled “The New Dynamics of the Digital Landscape,” which delved into the numbers behind customer acquisition costs and how small shifts in direct bookings can add up over time.

According to Green, the cost of customer acquisition in hospitality is an average of 15 percent to 25 percent of guest-paid revenue, but she said there are many hotels that are spending as much as 35 percent of guest-paid revenue to put new heads in beds. Green said revenue that contributes to operating profit and expenses (such as sales and marketing) consists of whatever is left after operators pay out for loyalty investments, retail commissions and wholesale commissions, leaving a tiny slice of the pie for overall net revenue. 

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30 Influential Women In Hospitality

Cindy Estis Green, CEO and Co-Founder, Kalibri Labs

Cindy Estis Green launched Kalibri Labs—a data analytics company geared toward the hospitality industry—in 2012 after spending years in the field. As the CEO, she influences the company by staying connected to the team’s activities, promoting personal development for team members in their areas of discipline and acting as a spokesperson for the industry. “I have experience and a skill set in an area that I realized can help mitigate some challenges facing hospitality today,” she said. “I wake up every day and can’t wait to get to work and move a little closer to meeting the objectives of making a difference. I am very self-motivated and when I set my sights on a target, I have a lot of persistence and a lot of energy that I train on that objective. I try not to focus on the hurdles which are inevitably on the path; I just try to work through them quickly and keep my eye constantly on the finish line.” Green suggests that up-and-coming leaders focus more on where they go than on where they studied. “Keep in mind that what you end up doing for most of your career may not exist when you graduate from university, so don’t worry if the work you do in your first five years isn’t something you want to do for the next 20,” she said. “Find a path that makes you want to jump out of bed so you can get to it. When you learn what you love to spend time on, the career opportunities will be clearer and easier to achieve.”

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Women in Technology

Cindy Estis Green breaks new ground in business, data analysis and leadership.

Cindy Estis Green spent her childhood summers at camp But unlike her peers' experience, it wasn't all fun and games. She grew up helping her parents, Buddy and Irma Estis, own and operate Camp Redwood in New York State's Lower Hudson Valley.

The family business is where Cindy cut her teeth on the fundamentals of the hospitality industry - lodging, food and beverage, amenities and giving guests reasons to return again and again.

Today, the self-made business woman examines other fundamentals made relevant in the past two decades by technology - electronic global booking systems and the emergence of third-party online distribution platforms.

Read the full article on Asian Hospitality

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Owners’ views on hotel distribution profitability

September 22 2017

By Ines Blal, Cindy Estis Green, and Alexandre Sogno

Owners can use this straightforward assessment and these guidelines to manage room inventory.

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The year 2016 marked a new step in hotel distribution with the active participation in travel of Google, TripAdvisor and others entering the market with instant booking and other transactional models. Here’s our straightforward assessment and actionable guidelines for owners with regards to the management of their room inventory.

Asset managers have to be well-versed in the subject to be able to identify potential hidden costs. After all, as owners expect operators to generate direct bookings, management fees are computed on the basis of the “full average daily rate” and not on the “net ADR” (which is ADR minus transaction-related acquisition costs and general acquisition costs, plus ancillary spend).

Read the full article on Hotel News Now

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Travel Tech CEO Series: DerbySoft Prepares for a Hotel Distribution Free-for-All

July 18 2017

Sean O'Neill

This is the final Q&A in a series of conversations with industry leaders.

Our Travel Tech CEO Listening Series has showcased the industry’s top minds revealing where business-to-business travel tech is heading.

Skift: But guest acquisition costs eat up anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of room revenue at upscale and luxury hotels in North America, according to research by Kalibri Labs. Don’t you think hotels should work to tame third-party distribution?

Zhang: Nobody should dominate the partnership and force another side to do something they don’t want to do.

That said, OTAs provide huge value to the hotel companies. They will exist forever.

Read the full article on Skift

Positive Data For Hotel Industry Unveiled At AAHOA Conference

Steady As She Goes

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dennis Nessler

Mark Woodworth, CBRE Hotels | Estis Green, Kalibri Labs

Mark Woodworth, CBRE Hotels | Estis Green, Kalibri Labs

Some positive news was offered to hoteliers at last week’s annual AAHOA Conference in the form of a continued positive growth forecast for the foreseeable future as well as the apparent progress of branded hotels in getting consumers to book direct.

Mark Woodworth, senior managing director, CBRE Hotels, offered an economic update on the U.S. hotel industry, while Cindy Estis Green, co-founder/CEO, Kalibri Labs, detailed for the first time the results of a recent survey that shed some light on how hoteliers are faring in comparison to the OTAs.
 

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Hotel Revenue Managers Say They Want a Revolution

Hotel Revenue Managers Say They Want a Revolution

Change has not come as fast as a 2010 survey had predicted. This study offers a few reasons why, but misses a big one: The industry is in desperate need of loud champions of new techniques and strategies.

— Sean O'Neill

A survey of 381 hotel revenue managers worldwide by Cornell University finds a surging interest in seeing the biggest possible picture of what’s happening at their properties transactionally.

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HB Exclusive: Loyalty Contribution Reaches All-Time High

HB Exclusive: Loyalty Contribution Reaches All-Time High

NATIONAL REPORT—Hotel bookings from loyalty program members continue to increase across all chainscales—further reinforcing the value proposition for these programs, according to new data from the Demystifying the Digital Marketplace study of more than 25,000 hotels in North America by Kalibri Labs.

Certain customer segments, such as business travel and government, have always been strong on loyalty programs but the proportion of room nights booked by loyalty members is now at an all-time high, far surpassing the traditional contribution strength of those two segments.

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Hotel Yearbook 2017

The Hotel Yearbook 2017–Digital Marketing features editorial contributions from 35 opinion leaders around the world on the ways hotel companies will be using digital marketing techniques in the years ahead. Considering the huge impact that online marketing can have on a hotel company’s bookings, The Hotel Yearbook 2017–Digital Marketing is a must read for marketing decision makers throughout the entire industry.

Read the full article here

20 years of OTAs: How they changed the hotel industry

20 Years Of OTAs: How They Changed The Hotel Industry

The emergence in the past 20 years of online travel agencies as a distribution partner has had a profound effect on the hotel industry. That relationship continues to grow and change. 

The emergence in the past 20 years of online travel agencies as a distribution partner has had a profound effect on the hotel industry. That relationship continues to grow and change. 

GLOBAL REPORT—In October 1996, Microsoft quietly launched a product that would forever change the way consumers research, plan and book travel, including hotel stays. The effect on the hotel industry of the founding of that first online travel agency, then called Microsoft Expedia Travel Services, has been both profound and often changing.

“While I would include other intermediaries like Google and TripAdvisor, it’s true the emergence of the OTAs has been one of the most significant things to happen in the hotel industry in the past 20 years,” said Mark Lomanno, partner and senior advisor with Kalibri Labs. “It has completely changed our business model.”

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Demystifying The Digital Marketplace: The Dynamic Distribution Landscape

DEMYSTIFYING THE DIGITAL MARKETPLACE: THE DYNAMIC DISTRIBUTION LANDSCAPE

The digital marketplace has undergone a significant amount of change in the intervening years since Distribution Channel Analysis: A Guide for Hotels was published in 2012. What follows below is an excerpt from the follow-up to that book, Demystifying the Digital Marketplace: Spotlight on the Hospitality Industry co-authored by Cindy Estis Green and Mark Lomanno. 

In 2015 U.S. hotels paid approximately $25 billion in overall customer acquisition costs on guest paid revenue of $145.4 billion. This guest paid revenue grew year over year, from $135.5 billion in 2014 to $145.4 billion in 2015. Guest paid revenue represents the revenue a guest actually paid for a hotel room including any commissions that were retained at the point of booking by a net/merchant intermediary or wholesaler.

View the article on Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals 

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OTAs Hitting Hotel Owners Where It Hurts: Real Estate Values

OTAs Hitting Hotel Owners Where It Hurts: Real Estate Values

According to the report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace“the revenue retained by US hotels after paying all customer acquisition costs declined by almost .4% or $600 million… That $600M in additional cost would have contributed directly to net operating income. Using an 8% capitalization rate (which most investors require), these additional acquisition costs of $600 million reduced the asset value of the overall hotel industry by at least $7.5 billion.”

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Marketing Strategies for a Competitive Advantage in 2017

Marketing Strategies for a Competitive Advantage in 2017

According to Geoffrey Moore in his book Living on the Fault Line: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet, stock price is a measure of future potential based on present competitive advantage. Competitive advantage consists of two components, GAP and CAP. The first, GAP, is the distance between your hotel offerings and your nearest competitors or the competitive advantage gap. The second is CAP, the competitive advantage period, that is the projected period a company can maintain its differentiated position. In other words if a hotel company has superior products and significant barriers to entry, it has both a competitive gap (product differentiation) and a competitive cap (time lag for competitor entry).

When developing a cohesive marketing strategy, both CAP and GAP should be incorporated to achieve success for sustained periods. With that in mind, here are some guiding principles to help you achieve a competitive advantage in your market.

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